This week Caia Park Partnership's funding from the council was cut from £160,000 a year to £55,000 a year for the next three years.
The Partnership, for those that don't know about it, is an umbrella organisation that has managed to launch seven stand-alone social enterprises in Caia over the past few years. It employs 70 people through the cafe, woodwork workshop, training centre, youth workers, tenancy support and creche and has hundreds of volunteers on its books. It is a vital community resource for young and old alike and has developed a real expertise in developing social enterprises. The latest, Wrex Recycling, will mean branching out with a town centre shop to sell children's clothing. If there's such as thing as "social entrepreneurship", the Partnership has got it.
Just three years ago grants made up 90% of its income. Back then Plaid argued on the council that the Partnership needed security to enable it to wean itself off those grants. It has done so spectacularly with the various enterprises, so that grants now make up only 34% of its income. The rest is earned income.
This was the background to reducing the funding to £55,000 a year. The Partnership had agreed to that after regular consultations and reviews with council officers and local councillors. Of course it would have liked a more gradual reduction but the success of the Partnership in recent years means that it is strong enough to reduce its grant dependency.
That's a fantastic achievement and it's disappointing to see Ian Lucas MP trying to score political points on the matter against Plaid councillors in Caia who have been consistent supporters of the Partnership. We were the only local councillors present at the Executive Board meeting to speak up for the Partnership and have worked closely with the Partnership to make sure it continues to thrive and develop.